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Nestled in the heart of the Sunshine State, Central Florida Zoo & Botanical Gardens offers a unique and educational experience for visitors of all ages. Today, we will take you through the zoo’s history.
We will provide insights into its rules, admission, and hours of operation to explore the myriad of things to experience.
Lastly, we will explore the educational opportunities and programs it offers and even discuss how you can adopt animals at this great zoo.
Central Florida Zoo & Botanical Gardens History
The zoo and gardens opened in 1975 under Central Florida Zoological Park. It started small, with only a petting zoo and a few animals. Over the years, the zoo expanded by adding new exhibits and attractions.
In 2000, the zoo was renamed to its current title to reflect the growth of its gardens. Today, it houses over 350 animals, representing more than 135 species. It also contains 23 acres of lush botanical gardens.
Through the decades, the Central Florida Zoo & Botanical Gardens has remained committed to animal conservation, education, and creating a fun visitor experience for all ages. It provides an important resource to learn about nature for residents and visitors to Central Florida.
Zoo Rules, Admission, and Hours of Operation
Before visiting the lovely zoo and garden, there are a few things you need to know about this amazing place.
Some rules are in place before you embark on your adventure to the great viewpoints along wooden boardwalks and zip lines, enjoy a night hike, or explore the entire grounds. These rules ensure visitors’ and animals’ safety and well-being.
Please do not feed or attempt to touch the animals. Their diets are carefully curated to meet their nutritional needs, and human food can harm them.
Smoking is not permitted within the zoo grounds. This is in consideration of the animal’s health and the comfort of other visitors.
Please dispose of trash in designated containers to maintain the cleanliness of the zoo.
Stick to designated regular concrete paths to ensure your safety and protect the plants and beautiful animals in the gardens.
For the safety of the animals and other visitors, pets are not allowed in the zoo.
Some areas are designated quiet zones for specific animals. Please keep noise to a minimum in these areas.
The park offers a range of admission options to accommodate different needs and budgets with upcoming events. General admission tickets for adults, children, and seniors are available, with discounts for residents of Seminole County. Memberships are also available for those who plan to visit frequently and want to enjoy exclusive benefits.
Furthermore, there is ample free parking around Seminole Blvd.
Hours of Operation
The park is generally open every day of the week except for Thanksgiving and Christmas. The zoo and botanical gardens are open from 9:00 AM to 3:00 PM. It’s important to note that admission ends an hour before closing, so plan your visit accordingly for an easy walk.
The early closing time allows for afternoon care and maintenance activities of animals.
Things to Experience in Central Florida Zoo & Botanical Gardens
Now, we go to the exciting part. Central Florida Zoo Botanical Gardens is a place where kids and the whole family can build beautiful experiences. And it will not disappoint you. Let’s see what type of activities and attractions you could try once you go here.
The Central Florida Zoo & Botanical Gardens has a diverse collection of animals in their natural habitats worldwide. The family loves visiting the following:
This exhibit allows visitors to get face-to-face with giraffes and zebras. Other African species found here include ostriches, antelopes, and rhinos worldwide.
See chimpanzees, lemurs, siamangs, and more up close at this exhibit. Watch them swing, climb, and interact.
Get an up-close look at snakes, lizards, turtles, crocodiles, and amphibians native to Florida and beyond. This exhibit houses over 60 species.
Florida Black Bear Habitat
Observe Florida black bears in their naturalistic habitat of trees, vegetation, and ponds.
Kids can interact with domestic goats, sheep, pigs, and other farm animals in a safe, controlled environment. There are also aquariums to explore with friends and family and other adventures.
So let the children enjoy going on the hippity hop adventure to explore this nice zoo. One thing is for sure the zoo boo bash at the Sanford Zoo at Seminole Blvd will keep them mesmerized.
In addition to animal encounters, the botanical garden contains 23 acres of quiet natural setting stretching with the view of Lake Monroe.
Some of the highlights include:
Central Florida Butterfly Garden – See native butterflies flutter amongst flowering plants.
Children’s Vegetable Garden – Kids can plant and tend to their vegetable garden.
Zen Garden – Escape to this peaceful Japanese garden with ponds, plants, and pagodas.
Florida Wildflower & Butterfly Garden – View vibrant native wildflowers that attract butterflies.
Tropical Foliage Garden – Wander through exotic tropical plants from around the world.
The zoo offers fun attractions and activities along with animal and botanical exhibits. These include:
Endangered Animal Carousel – Ride beautifully handcrafted endangered animals on this charming carousel.
Gatorland Express – Board this small train for a fun tour through parts of the zoo.
Once Upon a Safari Cruise – Float along the zoo’s lake in this cruise boat ride.
Dr. Doolittle’s Play Park – Kids can burn energy climbing, playing, and exploring this massive playground with a splash pad and water park to zip line.
KIDZONE Petting Zoo – Get hands-on with barnyard animals or giraffe feeding at this children’s petting area. Also, the Barnyard Buddies Children’s Zoo for nature encounters.
Many Educational Opportunities
Beyond exhibitions, the Central Florida Zoo & Botanical Gardens offers various programs. These include:
School Field Trips
The zoo provides engaging educational field trip experiences focused on science, nature, and conservation. Programs can be tailored by age.
During the summer, the zoo offers full and half-day zoo-themed camps for kids focused on wildlife and science.
Get VIP wildlife experiences like giraffe feedings, rhino walks, or a lemur encounter. These are available with added fees.
Take a guided behind-the-scenes tour to learn what happens off-exhibit, like seeing the animal hospital and commissary kitchen.
Special events happen year-round, like BOO at the ZOO for Halloween and ZooLaLa for Christmas. The zoo also hosts conservation fundraisers.
Adopt An Animal
Guests can support the zoo by “adopting” one of its animals. Adoption packages start at $25. Benefits include a photo and fact sheet about your adopted animal, an adoption certificate, merchandise discount, and more, depending on the level.
Frequently Asked Questions
Central Florida zoo botanical gardens are a combination of zoo and botanical gardens. It also has various recreational activities and adventures that are family-friendly.
It will take an average of three hours to walk through the entire zoo.
No. It’s not required to wear a mask inside the zoo. But you can always wear one if you wish to.
There are over 350 animals residing currently in the Central Florida Zoo. They represent more than 100 species of animals including amphibians, reptiles, birds, invertebrates, and mammals.
The admission cost for the Central Florida Zoo & Botanical Gardens varied depending on age:
- Adults (ages 13+): Around $19.50
- Children (ages 3-12): Around $13.75
- Seniors (ages 60+): Around $16.75
However, please note that prices can change, so it’s recommended to visit their official website or contact the zoo directly for the most up-to-date information on admission fees.
The Central Florida Zoo & Botanical Gardens did offer wedding venues for couples looking to tie the knot in a unique and natural setting. They had several event spaces available, including the Rainforest Pavilion and the Massey Services Pavilion.
However, venue availability and offerings can change, so it’s best to visit their official website or contact the zoo directly for the most current information on wedding venues and packages.